We all know that the Godfather 2 is arguably one of the greatest movie sequels ever produced and so appreciate the pressure put on EA Redwood Shores. But the sad truth is, even when you forget about all the film-to-game adaptation stuff, at the core we are looking for a good game. Fidelity to source material etc comes second. Godfather 2 still sinks into total mediocrity and becomes simply another addition to a league of truly dreadful game sequels. And for a genuine fan of the original Godfather game, this is heartbreaking.
It also leads me straight into posing a question that mystified me throughout the three days it took to play the whole game through: why didn’t they just build on the elements which worked in Godfather 1? When you first get into the game it becomes clear that by attempting to reinvent the GF format the designers have inadvertently produced a load of problems which never existed in GF1. This spans right across all areas of gameplay, from story, controls, movement, AI, to the gun battles and action sequences. Everything has become cumbersome, unsatisfying and tiresome.
In terms of storyline the player takes control of Dominic, a New York underboss who, after the disastrous Cuban expedition, ends up taking care of the family’s interests in New York. However, even though hardcore fans of the Coppola masterpiece have to take all of this with a fairly hefty pinch of salt, there is no escaping the fact that really minimal effort has gone into the storyline, script and characters. And we all know they can do better, because of Godfather 1. Even though the main character was awful in GF1, some of the others, like Vito, Clemenza and Sonny were very well-rounded and gave the game a sense of plausibility, which the sequel has failed to reproduce.
The characters more often than not look and sound nothing like their on screen counterparts. The dialogue is all taken out of context by being edited, misquoted and badly acted, and the whole thing makes you want to scratch the Godfather logo off your game box. However, as I mentioned, I’m a huge fan of the movies. Most people looking for a good mob boss game are really looking for overall gameplay quality and that is where GF2 should mainly be judged. Bad news: it quickly becomes apparent that the rubbish story is the least of the game’s problems.
It’s baffling how many minor, easily correctable issues there are in GF2. This begins with the most basic elements, like moving from A to B or getting someone to follow you and even talking to people can become an irritatingly drawn out affair. Forget the steady, well paced plodding of the GD1 character, Dominic now either walks slower than an arthritic old man or windmills into everything like an Orang-utan on crack. Efforts to get him to actually approach someone and initiate conversation can have you circling them ineffectually.
But probably one of the most disappointing elements of the game was the guns. There is a very impressive selection of weapons which should leave you with that ‘kid in a candy shop’ type feeling, but in reality, the gun battles are a total let down. The problem is that – again unlike Godfather 1 – the weapons just don’t pack enough of a punch. There’s no semblance of realism to the fire-fights, the guns have no kick to them, the sounds are rubbish and overall it’s just not satisfying. This is made even worse by rubbish enemy AI. Your opponents have no interest in self preservation, they just don’t care if they’re being shot at. This combination of predictable AI and crap weapons means that the action of Godfather 2 quickly becomes boring.
Another big issue is the game’s repetitive nature, a major problem with the first edition and one still present in the sequel. Again it’s all about taking over business after business, kicking out rival families and finally blowing up their compounds. But to give it credit; The Godfather 2 does at least attempt to innovate the format. Now you can enter the ‘Don’s View’ for an overview of your businesses and recruit crew members who have a range of attributes. But although this sounds like a great idea, the truth is that these guys are nothing but a total pain. When not getting themselves run over, falling through cracks in the scenery, running through doors backwards, or falling through windows, about the only thing these clowns do well is absorb bullets.
So the problems with Godfather 2 all stem from its bodged execution. Ideas like recruiting crew members and the ‘Dons View’ sound great on paper. The problem is that they are all undermined by, yes on the one hand a bad story, but much more significantly by repetitious gameplay, appalling AI, ludicrous missions and boring action sequences. The game has been rushed to market with apparently no quality control and then has had a £30 price tag slapped on it regardless of its half-baked, sloppy state. Needless to say this is lazy on the part of the developers and insulting to consumers who, in the case of many, will have simply bought a copy because they enjoyed the first edition. So, far from being an offer you can’t refuse, like Luca Brasi, this one needs to go sleep with the fishes…